A few political jelly beans to savor on this Easter Sunday:
• Democratic Assemblyman Sean Ryan faces a tough decision over the next few weeks. Should he remain in the Assembly, where he is carving out a solid reputation? Or should he aim for the retiring Marc Panepinto’s Senate seat?
Ryan will be under pressure. Senate Dems can smell a majority, especially in a presidential election year when lots of Democrats turn out.
They will tell Ryan: “You’re the man; you’re the one who can keep the seat and gain the majority for us. You can be a hero, Sean.”
Then the other voice will whisper in his other ear: “Stay in the safe seat. Build your seniority in the Assembly. Chris Jacobs will be awfully tough to beat.”
Ryan makes it clear he will take his time. That could mean waiting until the April 19 special election on Long Island to fill the seat of Republican Dean Skelos, the convicted former Senate majority leader. Pressure may lessen if the Democrat wins there.
But April 19 is a long way off. And a slew of Democrats waiting in line behind Ryan would like a decision soon. Add North Council Member Joe Golombek and Legislator Peter Savage to that list as “definitely interested,” according to Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner.
They join Amber Small, executive director of the Parkside Community Association; Mike Quinn, a Hamburg Council member and chairman of the Hamburg Democratic Committee; and Tonawanda Council Member Lisa Chimera, who has long been mentioned as a potential state legislator.
• Jacobs, meanwhile, shoulders an equal burden on the Republican side. He emerges as the GOP’s dream candidate; someone with crossover appeal and lots of money who has overwhelmingly won two countywide elections for clerk.
Jacobs is already emphasizing the importance of retaining Republican control of the Senate, which could prove a tough sell in a district with 35,000 more Democrats. If there is a Republican with a chance of making that case, however, it’s Jacobs.
He also captured the Independence line last week – the same line by which former Sen. Mark Grisanti almost pulled off a general election upset in 2014.
• Then there’s that pesky issue of Kevin Stocker, the Republican attorney who delights in confounding party leaders. He continues his door-to-door visits, plans a spring poll to gauge GOP sentiment and will decide on a primary challenge to Jacobs by the end of May.
Stocker should not be discounted. He handily beat Grisanti – another Republican “crossover” – in the 2014 primary. But it may be another story in a presidential year marked by heavy Democratic turnout.
“That just means I have to work hard to earn the trust of Democrat and independent votes,” he said a few days ago.
• It looks as if New York will host a real, live presidential primary on April 19 after all. Sen. Ted Cruz was in New York City last week to make his Republican case in the Empire State – though nobody yet detects even a hint of his organization here.
No such problem for Donald Trump, with built-in support from major figures like Buffalo’s Carl Paladino.
Zellner reports for the Democrats, meanwhile, that two Hillary Clinton staffers have already set up shop in Buffalo in preparation for April 19. More than 100 also attended last week’s local event signing up Clinton volunteers.
• Erie County Democrats honored former Chairman Joe Crangle a few days ago by establishing an annual Joseph F. Crangle Legacy Award for “lifetime service to the party.”
The inscription on Crangle’s plaque nicely sums up the chairman’s own legacy: “Beloved chairman of the Erie County and New York State Democratic parties, storied political strategist, confidante to legislators, mayors and presidential candidates, dear friend and devoted family man whose name is writ large in the national history of the Democratic Party.”